I wanted to contribute to today’s discussion of anti-vaccinationist, pseudoscience-pawning Jenny McCarthy being given not only an appearance on Oprah but, as reported by Orac, a deal with Oprah’s production company for her own show.
The public attention that Jenny McCarthy’s rants have gotten were bad enough. But, now, to have the soapbox of one of the most influential names in society?
I had to go outside the science blogging community with this. So, I wrote to the Philadelphia attorney who writes the award-winning blog, Field Negro.
Good evening, Counselor,
I know that your view of Oprah has modulated over the years but I’m hoping to get your take on this. I believe you thought her squarely in the house but you recently said (April 19) in your post explaining to yuppie black friends the Malcolm X field negro/house negro speech: “Note, since this post I have changed my opinion [since three years ago] about Oprah. I think girlfriend is on the patio now and has at least one leg in the fields.”
Well, you may want to reassess after today.
Today, many in the network at ScienceBlogs have blogposts on the threat to human health by Oprah parading anti-vaccination, pseudoscience wackaloon, Jenny McCarthy. ScienceBlogs.com’s frontpage will have links but you are a very busy man.
This one post by my physician colleague will give you all you need to know:
To give McCarthy the bully pulpit that is Oprah’s show is to sentence thousands of children to death from childhood diseases for which we have low-cost protection in vaccines. Moreover, by encouraging parents not to vaccinate their children, other children may be put at risk – a practice I consider to be a form of biological terrorism.
I’m not being overly dramatic, Counselor. As a scientist of a certain age, I have relatives that were afflicted with polio and ancestors that died of measles and smallpox. Today, these diseases are preventable. However, the hysteria created by Jenny McCarthy now being given the high-profile imprimatur of Oprah cannot do anything but cause vaccines to be withheld from children and deadly diseases to return and flourish.
Given your own platform, I humbly request that you publicize this public health travesty to HFNs, Afrospear, and other readers to protest Oprah’s complicity in this unconscionable anti-vaccination movement. This is not just a science issue, it is a societal issue – one that will irreversibly affect the futures of large numbers of children with debilitating and fatal diseases that are easily prevented.
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UPDATE (6 May 1:15 pm EDT) : This post has been Twittered this morning by Suzanne Somers.
Also, Arthur Allen just put up a great article in Slate, “Say It Ain’t So, O,” that closes with the following:
What’s a little sad about this episode is the fact that once upon a time, big stars like Humphrey Bogart, Louis Armstrong, and Elvis Presley stood up for vaccination campaigns to protect the lives of children. (Actress Amanda Peet recently stepped up to counter McCarthy’s message, saying that people should get their advice on autism and vaccines from doctors, not actresses. But Peet seems to lack McCarthy’s entrepreneurial verve and hasn’t drawn the same level of attention.)
In those days, parents and children clamored for vaccination. Especially children in places like the South Side of Chicago or rural Mississippi (where Oprah was born in 1954), who suffered higher rates of polio in the late 1950s because their parents couldn’t afford the new vaccine.
Over the past year, new outbreaks of measles, whooping cough, and other vaccine-preventable diseases have occurred in communities with parents who choose not to vaccinate their kids.
Oprah, think of the children.